Points for Georgia in Williams-Brice Stadium have been a precious commodity.
Georgia (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) has averaged 14 points in its past eight games there and hasn’t topped 20 since 1994.
“It’s tough, it’s a tough place to play,” coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “And they’ve had good defenses, good personnel. I hope we do better than that. If we score that many, I hope that’s all we need.”
The Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0) again will line up a formidable unit against quarterback Aaron Murray and the Georgia offense.
South Carolina ranks 13th nationally in total defense (288.8 yards per game) and sixth in scoring defense (11.2).
Murray had his first road start at South Carolina in 2010 in a 17-6 loss. The Bulldogs managed 253 yards of total offense, one more than it had in 2006.
“Crazy, crazy environment,” Murray said of playing in Williams-Brice Stadium. “We’re going to have to be ready to go when it comes to dealing with that offensively and just make sure we have a great game. They’re a very talented team.”
The Bulldogs could muster only a pair of Blair Walsh field goals in 2010.
“We know we can do a lot better this year,” said redshirt sophomore receiver Michael Bennett.
None of Matthew Stafford’s 51 career touchdown passes for the Bulldogs came in Columbia. He didn’t have any there in 2008 or 2006, making David Greene in 2004 the last Bulldog to throw a touchdown pass there.
“That’s in the past,” said Mike Bobo, offensive coordinator of a Georgia team that has scored at least 41 points in each of its five games this season. “We’ve got to go out, we’ve got to prepare well and be ready to execute against a very good defensive football team. It’s going to be a hostile environment. It’s going to be a lot of crowd noise. We’re going to have to handle that.”
Georgia has managed to find success at South Carolina even without lighting up the scoreboard.
Under Richt, Georgia is 4-1 at South Carolina, winning 14-7 in 2008, 18-0 in 2006, 20-16 in 2004 and 13-7 in 2002 when the Bulldogs lone touchdown came on David Pollack’s memorable strip and score in the end zone.
One advantage for the offense this year might be the game moving to October from the first SEC game.
“As an offense, we’re feeling extremely good with the way we’ve been able to move the ball and put points on the board,” Murray said. “I think our guys can put some points on the board once again.”
Georgia senior linebacker Christian Robinson figures he’s been to about 15 Gamecocks games at Williams-Brice, which seats 80,250. His father, Ken, played linebacker for South Carolina in the mid-1980s.
“It’s one of the more challenging, I’d say, to play in,” Robinson said. “That stadium rocks. I’ve been up in the stands and it shakes. It’s different. It’s not as big as Neyland Stadium, but it gets just as loud.”
Eric Zeier, an analyst on Georgia’s radio broadcasts, was the last Georgia quarterback on a team that topped 20 points in Columbia. The Bulldogs won 24-21 in 1994 and 28-6 in 1992.
It’s not like Georgia hasn’t scored against South Carolina. The Bulldogs had 42 and 41 points in the past two games in Athens.
“When you go there, the crowd interaction obviously has an impact on what you want to do offensively,” Zeier said. “We do so much at the line of scrimmage now, that always makes it much more difficult. When we’ve been there, they’ve been able to run the football pretty well and control the clock in some of these games and that obviously shortens the game to some extent.”
Georgia would love to repeat the offensive success it’s had this season, but it will take a win any way it can.
“I don’t have any notion that we’re going to go in and post 40 on them,” Zeier said. “I hope that we do. I would anticipate another hard-fought football game that is going to come down to the wire. … Points are going to be at a premium, I would imagine.”